-New Ed-Fi™ data standard unifies and consolidates information from existing student data systems present in school districts and CMOs-

-Ed-Fi data standard release available for public review and comment through August 31, 2011-

AUSTIN, Texas – Following five years of work, $150 million in investments and input from educators across the country, today the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation released the new Ed-Fi data standard.

This free resource, which facilitates secure data exchange among disparate data systems in the K-12 education sector, puts the transformative power of information in the hands of educators when and where they need it most: their classrooms. Today’s release marks the start of the open period for review and comment, which will last through the end of August 2011. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation will review and prioritize comments for possible incorporation into future releases.

Release of the Ed-Fi standard enables state and local education agencies to give educators more effective tools to understand and respond to the unique needs of each and every student. It also enables states and districts to easily cost-effectively adjust to continually evolving compliance requirements. The standard is currently being implemented by five states, covering 510,500 teachers and 7.4 million students.

“Every school year millions of students arrive in their classrooms as nothing more than a face and a name. Their teachers know very little about their histories, their successes and their challenges,” said Michael Dell, co-founder, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “For too long, we have expected teachers to go on data scavenger hunts to piece together holistic views of their students and classes. How many more children will miss opportunities to grow and succeed while the data schools already collect remains out of their teacher’s reach and unexamined? Any delay will be measured in the missed opportunities of our nation’s schoolchildren.”

Developed with funding from the Dell family foundation and input from teachers, school-district and charter-management-organization leaders, local and state education agency officials, and vendors nationwide, Ed-Fi helps improve student achievement by extracting student information from a variety of sources, and by then standardizing and integrating the student-level data into Web-based dashboards, reports and other applications that are (with the right permissions) accessible to educators and other parties on demand.

The standard does not replace existing education data or information systems, nor does it supplant existing data standards; it enables them to work together to give educators nationwide what they need: holistic portraits of students that are detailed, easy to understand and up-to-date at any given moment. Moreover, Ed-Fi addresses a long-standing challenge to meaningful systemic improvement in schools nationwide: The multiple and often non-interoperable information systems used by schools, districts and states.

“Collecting data that is not accessible and usable for teachers is a waste of time and resources,” continued Michael Dell. “In every state and school nationwide, there’s an urgent need to put the data we already have to work—without elaborate new programs or more burdensome data entry.”

As part of their ongoing efforts to ensure that educators have the information and insight they need to understand the individual needs of every student and be equipped to respond, Colorado, Delaware, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas have already adopted the standard. Once these states have implemented Ed-Fi, educators will have fingertip access to comprehensive student-level data that allows them to measure progress and refine action plans throughout the school year. District and state officials will likewise have easy access to the comprehensive, apples-to-apples comparative information they need to accurately measure results and to effectively target limited resources where they will be most effective.

“Educator effectiveness is a Colorado priority,” said Robert Hammond, Colorado Commissioner of Education. “We believe Ed-Fi will enhance the capabilities of our data systems and lift the curtain on the information our teachers and schools gather to track student success. Student-level data will be available, understandable and usable by teachers in the classroom. We’ve had all this information in the past, but now we can put it to work for the betterment of all students.”

“Deeper and richer data will help our educators better understand and meet our students’ needs,” Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery said. “This partnership complements work we already had underway and saves the state time and money because they already have developed a standard way to report student metrics.”

“Key to our state’s efforts to raise student achievement is the use of data to inform our decisions at every level,” said Ollie Tyler, Acting State Superintendent of Education, Louisiana Department of Education. Our participation in Ed-Fi will help us meet this objective by providing our teachers with meaningful, longitudinal student-level data, which teachers can use to support the academic needs of individual students. To have this data at our fingertips will no doubt have a tremendous impact on our ability to ensure the effectiveness of our teachers and ultimately, the success of our students.”

“We are fortunate in Tennessee to have a wealth of data on our schools and students. Our value-added assessment system is critical in helping us understand the impact our teachers and schools have, which helps us identify areas where we can continue to improve,” saidTennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “In partnership with Ed-Fi, Tennessee will continue using data which we believe will result in enhanced capacity, continuously improved systems and greater capabilities.”
Ed-Fi fills the persistent need in the education sector to harness the power of data already collected in school districts and states. Key unique features of Ed-Fi include:

  •  Focus on student performance. The primary purpose of Ed-Fi is to integrate student-level data from multiple information systems and give educators instant access to current, accurate student-specific data to increase academic growth and achievement. It does not attempt to replace schools’ operational systems, compliance reporting systems or systems for making budget allocation decisions.
  •  Actionable intelligence. Ed-Fi focuses on data all the way to the individual student level, unlike other initiatives that focus only on aggregate-level performance data (i.e., at the school, school district, or state level). Ed-Fi thus enables teachers to develop more effective, progress-based lesson plans when warranted.
  • K-12 focus. While it is not intended to address the complete set of data related to higher education students or those entering the workforce, the data standard will address connections to that information for the purpose of evaluating education outcomes. In the future, Ed-Fi might also address Pre-K students.
  • Vendor neutrality. Successful Ed-Fi implementation does not require specific hardware or software choices. It is architected to fully integrate with existing infrastructure and accommodate future innovations.
  • Transparent governance. Ed-Fi was developed with funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation for public use and benefit. It will be governed by the future multistate-led Ed-Fi Alliance.
  • Flexibility. Ed-Fi accommodates continuously evolving reporting requirements from district, state and federal agencies.
  • Support for vertical reporting. Ed-Fi goes far beyond simple horizontal reporting by supporting push and pull models throughout the reporting chain.
  • Ease of implementation. Ed-Fi is built on familiar, widely-adopted XML standards and includes data elements with plain-English names and definitions that make sense in the education space, as opposed to complex jargon or codes.

The Ed-Fi solution aligns with the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) and shares some characteristics with other established and emerging educational standards. Using Ed-Fi enables states to implement CEDS in a practical, sustainable manner and supports the teacher- and student-centric purpose that Ed-Fi embodies.

Rather than replacing other established and emerging educational standards, Ed-Fi complements and enhances them, first, by sharing disparate data and translating it into element-level detail, and second, by offering broad coverage at the school, district or state level. This interoperability enables Ed-Fi to coexist among systems that states have already implemented, and enables states to build on prior investments in existing IT systems and processes.

The Ed-Fi standard and the associated dashboards were developed by Double Line Partners, the foundation’s strategic partner inperformance-driven education initiatives. Double Line Partners will continue to lead the evolution of the Ed-Fi data standard work and will serve as a technical assistance provider for states, districts, and vendors working with the Ed-Fi solution.

In the coming months, the Ed-Fi Alliance will be formed to govern the strategic direction and evolution of Ed-Fi and maintain its focus on serving the public good as a high quality, free resource. Membership of the Ed-Fi Alliance will be made up of adopting state and local education agencies.

For more detailed information about the Ed-Fi data standard including FAQtechnical documentation and to provide comments on the Ed-Fi data standard, visit the website at edfi.

Quotes from Supporters

“Federal incentives to drive changes in education policies have been remarkably effective in terms of driving policy changes at the state level. But implementing those policies is enormously complex. The rigorous research and development work that went into developing the Ed-Fi data standard will save states millions of dollars as they get down to the brass tacks of execution. And by offering free licenses, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has made it possible for states to leapfrog complex technical issues and focus on quick implementations that will get easy-to-use tools into educators’ hands as soon as possible. The end result should be better educations for millions of children nationwide, especially since the Ed-Fi standard will be governed by a cooperative multistate committee focused on the goal of improving education.”
Paul Pastorek, Former State Superintendent of Education, Louisiana

“Ed-Fi provides the kind of granular information that educators have long needed to track the heartbeat of student progress. With dashboards enabled by Ed-Fi, teachers can see when a student is struggling and provide support or they can spot growth opportunities for outstanding students. This easily available diagnostic information can truly transform K-12 education where it matters most – in the classroom.”
Tom Luce, CEO, National Math Science Initiative, former Assistant Secretary US Department of Education


About Ed-Fi
Ed-Fi is a universal educational data standard that enables vital academic information on K-12 students to be consolidated from the different data systems of school districts throughout the United States. Ed-Fi acts as a universal translator of academic data, integrating and organizing information so that educators can start addressing the individual needs of each student from day one, and can measure progress and refine action plans throughout the school year.

Developed through funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Ed-Fi licenses provide school districts, state education agencies and vendors with unrestricted access to all Ed-Fi components free of charge. For more information, visit edfi. The Ed-Fi initiative supports the goal of ensuring that all children have access to quality education in public schools, one of the foundation’s key objectives.